TiD&B Interview: Heath Looney, Warm CommunicationsPosted by Lady V on Monday, May 28th, 2012
In today’s musical climes, few independent labels can boast a full bodied back catalogue of quality releases spanning as far back as a decade, and even fewer manage to do so whilst remaining faithful to one sound or one genre. However one man, who may not necessarily admit to having accomplished that, yet appears to have done so effortlessly is Warm Communications’ Heath Looney. Spearheading the drum and bass label from an unlikely hub; Texas, US, he’s created an imprint which continues to grow from strength to strength, untouched by trends or fads but with the sole focus of simply delivering good music.
Lady V spoke with Heath to learn more about the man behind the label…
TiD&B: Let’s rewind to the beginning of Warm Communications – what was your motivation behind starting the label?
Heath: When I started the label, my focus was mainly based around the atmospheric, more musical D&B such as the kind Good Looking, Moving Shadow etc were doing. There were not really that many independents, although a small number of them at that time were specialising in that type of D&B, and I wanted to be a part of it – put my stamp on things.
TiD&B: This year marks 10 years since WARM001, are your thoughts and passion for the music still the same or have they changed over time?
Heath: I would definitely say that my ambition and passion for the music are still very much there and burning. The label is always changing in the sense that I don’t want each release to sound the same as the last, so I’m always trying to find new artists or artists I feel share the same ethos. So that always keeps me on my toes and the interest flowing.
Heath: It’s always a struggle running a label, but I absolutely love doing it. As everyone knows, vinyl sales are down but still selling so it’s very nice to be able to get out ‘physical’ products. It has had an effect on Warm and everyone else I believe, but that’s why you just have to be a lot more cautious when it comes to the music you sign, and strive for the best quality from your artists. I don’t think I would continue putting out music with Warm if it ever had to go completely digital – I’m too stubborn & too much of an old vinyl head to let it go!
TiD&B: You’re based in Texas, is there a ‘scene’ as such there? Who did you last check out?
Heath: I live in Amarillo, Texas and there is absolutely no scene here at all. There are a handful of local DJs but nothing at all compared to a ‘scene’. Texas itself has always had a healthy scene, but that’s down south from where I am and most of the time too far to drive.
The last person I checked out? Hmmm….to be honest, I haven’t been to a show in years, other than when DJ-ing out. The closest city with a scene here is about a 5 hour drive and with a little girl, work and the label, it’s really tough to find time for travelling. I’d love to be doing more DJ gigs, but that will happen when it’s supposed to.
TiD&B: Has the label’s output become a reflection of your own personal musical taste? What’s your thought process when signing tunes now?
Heath: Yes, I would say so. There is so much good D&B around these days. I started the label with a certain sound which I wanted to push but over the years, it’s just about getting quality music from quality artists, no matter the style. With regards to my thought process; it’s just about finding music that sometimes pushes boundaries or really sets a tone. No clones or copies.
TiD&B: What other kinds of music do you listen to? Any specific artists you’re digging at the moment?
Heath: I love a lot of different music. I come from an old punk background, so usually have to go relive those feelings of angst. I love 80s music as well. Within electronic music, I love the ‘electronic’ stuff from the mid 90’s that Warp were doing – it was such a special time in music and you can hear it in the tunes. Techno and house are still very big with me these days too.
TiD&B: What are your thoughts on the recent mainstream excitement and hype about EDM in the US? Do you think it effects your position and role as an independent label, particularly one operating out of the States?
Heath: That’s a interesting question. With anything, it will have its good aspects & bad aspects. I think it’s nice that it’s exposing electronic music, but again it brings out so many people just trying to cash in which de-values a lot of the music being made. However, I haven’t felt the need to conform to what’s being made or sign things that will play a part in the mainstream.
TiD&B: Will Warm always remain primarily a D&B label?
Heath: Yes, Warm will always be a D&B label. I run another label called Pushing Red that caters more to the techno, house, dubstep side of things, so I don’t have to worry about Warm being cluttered with other styles.
TiD&B: 2012 has delivered 2 stellar releases from FD and Fracture, what else should we keep an ear out for from Warm?
Heath: Ah glad you’ve liked them! Freddie (FD) and Charlie (Fracture) are great people to work with! Up next is a 12” by Stray & Halogenix, which will be out soon. Other than that, there are a couple of remixes in the works that I’m very excited about, as well as some other solo 12s by some great artists! I’m just gonna keep pushing and building!
Ella Jones’ ‘Lately’ (Fracture’s Astrophonica Remix)/ Fracture ‘Tunnel Track’ is out now.